Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 10, 2021 (SKNIS): Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Alexis Jeffers, updated the Federal Parliament on plans to transform the agricultural sector over the next ten years, as outlined in the St. Kitts and Nevis Agricultural Transformation and Growth Strategy 2022-2031.
The comprehensive plan is particularly important given that the sector’s contribution to St. Kitts and Nevis’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased from two (2) percent in the year 2000 to 0.7 percent in 2018. During that period, the food import bill amounted to $76 million.
“We intend to, over the next ten years, address some of the concerns with the availability of arable lands,” Minister Jeffers stated during Wednesday’s (November 10, 2021) Sitting of the National Assembly. He cited the intention to implement coherent policies that will build the agricultural sector and added, “Of course, environmental issues, trade issues, adapting and implementing that linkage between tourism and agriculture and indeed what is most important to our farmers is the access to financing to expand and upgrade their agricultural practices.”
There are also plans to assist farmers and fisherfolk to improve their business model. Upgrades to the sector plan will include innovative strategies to seize on the use of technological tools.
“Mr. Speaker, of course, we intend to adopt various digital and innovative ways of conducting agriculture moving forward. Indeed, we have been stressing over the last 18 months there about the importance of protected agriculture and that involves the expansion of what we term as greenhouse technology and shade house technology,” Honourable Jeffers stated.
Greenhouses and shade houses were deemed particularly important as challenges from climate change impact the twin-island Federation. Some of the identified challenges outlined were reduced seasonal rainfall, sea-level rise, and more intense tropical cyclones.
Minister Jeffers said that the government was committed to increasing the production and productivity of the agricultural sector and thanked the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Sub-Regional Office for its assistance in producing the 10-year improvement plan.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Agricultural Transformation and Growth Strategy 2022-2031 was launched on September 30, 2021.